Saturday, 17 March 2012

Phobes' Corner

The Belfast Telegraph reports on Unionists boycotting St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Downpatrick as a result of their antipathy to the presence on flags issued by the local council of the original Irish name of the town, Dún Pádraig, alongside the usual jarring English transliteration (ironically, the BT gets it the wrong way around and refers to the Irish as a "translation").

Last year there were problems associated with the unfurling of a tricolour, and it seems that the current spat may be connected. But a tricolour is the flag of a polity, whereas writing "Dún Pádraig" as well as "Downpatrick" is simply an example of bilingualism in practice.

Jim Wells, the DUP MLA who has previously caused waves with his open homophobia, is quoted as follows:

"I most certainly will not be attending the parade," he said.

"It is my personal protest against the adoption of Irish language on the flag. I believe this is a highly retrograde step. Unfortunately, by adopting this stance they are alienating moderate unionists who would have very much liked to be associated with the the event."

The truth is that moderate Unionists do not have a problem with the Irish language. Indeed, moderate human beings do not have a problem with other people's culture, just as they don't have a problem with what sexual orientation they were born with.

If they do, then we shall simply have to find another adjective for them.

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